Cynthia Lui MP
Member for Cook
Torres Strait Islanders will soon be able to apply for legal recognition of their culturally adopted children under Queensland's historic Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Act.
'The Act gives Torres Strait Islander families a process for making an application for legal recognition resulting in a permanent transfer of parentage from the biological parents to the cultural parents,' the Member for Cook Cynthia Lui, the first Torres Strait Islander elected to any Australian parliament, said.
'For generations, Torres Strait Islanders have supported their children and each other in loving, supportive extended families. This Act means children and adults who’ve grown up with traditional adoptive parents will finally have their legal identity match their cultural identity.'
'This will enable kids raised through traditional child rearing practices to access identification documentation needed for things like education, health care, housing and finance. It will also enable adoptive parents to make decisions on behalf of the child which previously needed to be made by a legal guardian.
'I am extremely pleased to announce the inaugural Meriba Omasker Commissioner Mr C'Zarke Maza has been appointed and will commence his service in mid-July. Two offices (one in Cairns and one on Thursday Island) will open in August. Applications for cultural adoption will be able to be submitted by early September.
'The offices will have culturally informed staff on hand to provide information about the Act, support people to make an application, engage with the community to promote the Act and provide information about the application process.'
'On behalf of the Torres Strait Islander community, I couldn't be more pleased that our cultural practices are recognised in law and that families will soon be able to apply for legal recognition of their adopted child.
'Legally recognising Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practice is a momentous step forward in the Queensland Government’s journey to a reframed relationship with First Nations and acknowledges the strength of Torres Strait Islander culture. We now have a pathway towards resolving longstanding issues faced by Torres Strait Islanders whose legal identity does not reflect their cultural identity and lived experience.'
For more information on Meriba Omasker please visit datsip.qld.gov.au/torreschildrearing
Media Contact – Cook Electorate Office – 4223 1100